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Staff Picks: Guantánamo Diary

In his memoir, “Guantánamo Diary”, Mohamedou Ould Slahi admits that he fought for an al-Qaida unit in Afghanistan in the early 1990s. But that was when the United States was active in funding al-Qaida because it was fighting against the Soviet Union. Slahi then went back to Germany to finish school and spent some time in Canada as well. According to Slahi, when he left Afghanistan he severed all ties with al-Qaida.

Cover_GuantanamoIn 2001, while living in his home country of Mauritania, Slahi was detained at the request of the United States government. He was sent to Jordan for interrogations and eventually ended up in Guantánamo Bay, where he has spent the last 14 years. Slahi was accused of being a high level recruiter for al-Qaida and one of the masterminds behind the millennium bomb plot at the Los Angeles airport.

Slahi wrote this memoir while detained at Guantánamo. His lawyers managed to have it checked and approved by the government and the book was published last year. It became an international sensation. It’s a fascinating look at what the typical detainee goes through while at Guantánamo. It’s not an easy read for several reasons. One, it is hard to read about the tortures he goes through both physically and mentally. Secondly, because it had to be approved for publication by the government, there are a number of words, sentences, and even whole paragraphs and pages that had to be redacted for security reasons. There are numerous pages where content is covered by a black bar. This is a book where you literally have to read between the lines.

Throughout the book, Slahi maintains his innocence. The most recent news is that he was approved for release by the Periodic Review Board on July 14, 2016. He is still in Guantánamo but he should be released soon. This is a book that may change how you see the War on Terror.

You can put “Guantánamo Diary” on hold in our catalog. While you’re waiting, be sure to check out “You Might Also Like These …” at the bottom of the book’s page for more reading suggestions.

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